6 Tips for “Keeping Your Cool” While Driving in High Temperatures

Summer is nearly here, and so is the heat!  As hot as it is going to get, experienced drivers know that the temperatures on the road (and in your cab) can be even hotter!

When the temperatures start to rise, it is smart to be mindful of the risks associated with the heat, as well as the steps you can take to ensure your own safety and the safety of the other drivers sharing the road with you.

The three “levels” of heat-related illness can be generalized as:

  1. Heat cramps—the least severe of heat-related illness, characterized by extreme thirst, heavy sweating, fatigue, and muscle cramps.
  2. Heat exhaustion—while heavy sweating can be a precursor to heat exhaustion, the absence of sweating all together can be symptomatic of heat exhaustion as well. Other symptoms to watch out for as well include having goosebumps and cold sweats while in the heat, headache, nausea, a heartbeat that is weak yet rapid, and finally dizziness and/or low blood pressure when standing up.
  3. Heat Stroke—the most severe heat-related illness, symptoms of heat stroke include fainting, seizures and can also include unexplained confusion or an inability to think clearly.

Educating yourself on the symptoms and dangers of heat-related sickness is the crucial first step in protecting yourself from danger—add these tips and techniques to your arsenal to help you beat the heat:

  1. STOP—if you’re experiencing symptoms of heat illness you must respect these symptoms by taking a break from your work or driving. Take this time to focus on assisting your body in returning to its normal temperature.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids—an obvious tip, but one that is not to be overlooked! Water and electrolyte heavy drinks such as Gatorade contain the essential building blocks your body needs to develop a strong defense against heat sickness.
  3. Take a “cool” break—when taking a break, find a cool place like the air-conditioned comfort of your cab or local rest stop—this will assist your body in cooling down and properly regulating your body temperature.
  4. Cold water on the skin—if you’re able, take a cool shower or cover your head/neck area with a towel soaked in cool water or filled with ice cubes.
  5. Loosen your clothes—as mentioned before, sweating is only Step 1 in your body’s ability to regulate its own temperature. Your body must be able to remove the moisture from your skin via evaporation and tight-fitting clothing may inhibit your body’s ability to perform this task efficiently.
  6. Contact a doctor—in the case that your internal body temperature reaches unsafe levels and/or your symptoms are not improving within an hour or so, contact a medical professional immediately and refrain from driving or operating machinery until your symptoms have subsided.

Obviously meeting deadlines in the name of the game in the driving business, but making sure you’re available to meet said deadlines is paramount.

If you begin experiencing heat-related symptoms while driving during these hot months, make sure you’re giving these indicators the respect they deserve and take steps toward helping your body regulate its temperature.

To learn more about heat exhaustion visit OSHA’s information on occupational heat exposure.